Tonal Eclipse

I am leaving for New York one week from tomorrow.  This is partly exciting, and mostly terrifying.  The exciting parts are the fault of my agent, my voice teacher, and my family.  The terrifying parts are the fault of Leonard Bernstein.

I suppose he thought, since it was his last show, that he could write whatever he wanted and nobody would say much about it.  Of course, that was not entirely true.  In fact, the show was panned when it premiered and it was suggested to Mr. Bernstein that he might want to rethink it.  I guess he decided the best way to fix somnething that nobody liked was to give them more of it.  He made it even longer and put in many more difficult notes for me to learn.

The part I have been steadfastly poring over for the past few months is the part of Francois.  The cruelest role of all.  Not only am I trying to learn trios where each of the three of us is in their own key, but my character, being French-Canadian, slips back and forth from English to French every few words, often mid-sentence.  This, my friends, is musical torture.

I have the piece “memorized,” which is to say I can sing the whole thing through by myself in the shower.  However, when presented with the orchestra or, heaven forbid, other singers, finding a note becomes less High Opera and more Choose-Your-Own-Adventure.  So today, and for the rest of the week, I will be sitting with my iPod, listening to the recording over and over again, trying desperately to come in either on time, or on the right note, or if my Fairy Godmother is in the room, both.  But don’t worry about me.  I’ve been in worse shape than this with less time before.  That’s the joy of the theater; it’s terrible until it’s not.  And I have a week to go.

Posted in A Quiet Place, Leonard Bernstein, Music, Opera.


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